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Rapid universal and affordable access to the Internet

Current available data associated to access to the Internet, shows a significant growth in terms of coverage. This growth has been led by the growth in mobile networks coverage. This indicator reflects the minimum requirements for ICT access since it allows people to subscribe and use mobile cellular services. The growth in mobile coverage has helped to overcome basic infrastructure divides associated to fixed mobile network which coverage is usually associated to urban and highly populated areas.

 

According to the International Telecommunication Union’s 2015 Measuring the Information Society Report [http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/misr2015/M..., as of 2014, more than 99 per cent of the global population was covered by mobile networks while mobile cellular subscriptions have grown from 2.2 billion to 7.1 billion since 2005. In many countries, especially LDCs, mobile phones are the only way to access ICTs and benefit from their potential. Africa is by far the leading region in terms of growth in this indicator, which has increased a 78 per cent growth between 2010 and 2016. 

 

Access not only to basic ICTs but to broadband Internet through third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) systems are important particularly because they provide increasingly fast, reliable and high-quality access to the Internet. This means that people can access a broader set of benefits from ICTs. There are considerable differences when comparing access to fixed broadband subscriptions among regions. Despite the increased in the availability of fixed broadband subscriptions in recent years for all groups of countries, higher growth will be needed to bridge the divide between developed and developing countries: there are 31 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in developed countries against 9 in developing countries. In addition, fixed-broadband uptake remains very limited in LDCs, with only one subscription per 100 inhabitants [https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2.... Broadband connectivity in developing countries, when available, tends to be relatively slow and expensive, limiting the ability of businesses and people to use it productively.

 

Mobile-broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20 per cent annually in the last five years and were expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by end 2017.. Mobile-broadband prices as a percentage of GNI per capita halved between 2013 and 2016 worldwide. The steepest decrease ocurred in LDCs, where prices fell from 32.4 to 14.1 per cent of GNI per capita [https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/facts/ICTFactsFigures2.... Mobile broadband is now more affordable than fixed-broadband services in most developing countries. However, mobile broadband prices still represent more than 5 per cent of GNI per capita in most LDCs and are therefore unaffordable for the large majority of the population.